A petite, blond-haired, blue-eyed high school dropout who allegedly used the nickname JihadJane was identified as an alleged terrorist intent on recruiting others to her cause, as federal prosecutors unsealed criminal charges that could send her to prison for life.
Colleen Renee LaRose, 46, has been quietly held in U.S. custody since October on suspicions that she provided material support to terrorists and travelled to Sweden to launch a violent attack, according to federal officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is continuing to unfold.
LaRose, who lived in suburban Philadelphia, allegedly recruited men and women in the United States, Europe, and South Asia to “wage violent jihad,” according to an indictment issued in Pennsylvania.
She fueled her interests on the Internet over the past few years, and used websites and YouTube to post increasingly agitated messages.
Across the ocean on Tuesday, Irish police conducted raids in Cork and Waterford, arresting four men and three women who had been under electronic surveillance by U.S. and Swedish authorities.
The seven were suspected of plotting with LaRose to attack a Swedish artist, Lars Vilks, whose 2007 drawing of the prophet Muhammad with the body of a dog enraged Muslims, according to Irish news accounts.
The path that LaRose, who is 4 feet 11 inches tall and weighs barely more than 100 pounds, may have taken to jihad remains murky.
She has been married at least twice and, over several years since the mid-1980s, had been arrested by police in South Texas for writing bad checks and driving while intoxicated, according to court records. Investigators suggest that she turned to the Internet, using the names JihadJane and Fatima LaRose.
In a December 2007 Internet posting, ‘Fatima LaRose,’ who said she lived in Pennsylvania, asked for advice about how to bring an Egyptian boyfriend to the US for Christmas. Months later, the indictment said, ‘JihadJane’ described herself in a June 2008 YouTube posting as “desperate to do something somehow to help” suffering Muslims.
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